What Are the Different Types of Mental Disorders?


Did you know that 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness in a year? There’s still a lot of taboo around mental health, but there really shouldn’t be. Mental health concerns are incredibly common and easier to address with some education and open communication.

There are many different types of mental disorders, and almost all of them are on the rise in the wake of the COVID pandemic. To navigate the mental health industry, it’s important to understand the different types of mental illness, their symptoms, and their treatment.

In order to provide some much-needed mental health education and help smash the taboo, we put together this overview of mental illnesses. Read on to learn more!


Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses. Although many people think depression is just a period of feeling blue, it’s much more than that. Depression is a period of intense and persistent sadness and fatigue.

Symptoms are both physical and mental, including:

  • Feeling hopeless
  • Anhedonia – a lack of pleasure in activities
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of energy
  • Irregular sleep patterns
  • Changes in diet
  • Changes in weight
  • Thoughts of suicide or death
  • Self-harm
  • Confusion

Although it can be easy to tell someone with depression to cheer up, this is about as effective as telling someone with a broken arm to just heal it. Depression is sneaky and insidious, and it can be long-lasting without treatment.

Treatment is usually a course of antidepressants and regular talk therapy. In addition, a few lifestyle changes like regular exercise and a balanced diet can help improve mental health and wellness.

In severe cases, patients can be hospitalized for inpatient treatment. Suicide watch is also recommended for patients with suicidal ideations. In these cases, it’s helpful to install anti ligature locks, which can prevent suicide by hanging.


Anxiety and depression are two sides of the same coin. While depression is characterized by low levels of interest and a lack of stimulation, anxiety is the opposite. With anxiety, everything matters.

Characterized by worry, fear, and feeling “on edge” all the time, anxiety is a state of perpetual tension beyond reasonable concern. Symptoms can include:

  • Fear
  • Worry
  • Stress
  • Racing heart
  • Muscle tension
  • Chest tightness
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Dizziness

Panic attacks are common with some anxiety disorders. Many people who experience a panic attack end up thinking they’re having a heart attack due to the sensation of a racing heart.

Similar to depression, anxiety is usually treated with anti-anxiety medication and talk therapy. Severe cases can benefit from inpatient therapy, although therapy is considered the most effective treatment.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, OCD, is a kind of anxiety disorder. Although the feelings of panic and stress are similar to generalized anxiety, OCD is more specific.

OCD presents with symptoms of both obsessions and compulsions. The patient will be obsessed with something and will have repetitive compulsions to address their obsessions.

For example, they might be obsessed with the notion of germs. They will be compelled to wash their hands throughout the day and sanitize the things they touch. There are many different kinds of OCD, depending on the nature of the compulsions.

Talk therapy is the most effective treatment for OCD, helping the patient to break up their repetitive behaviors and address the reality of their obsessions. In addition, anti-anxiety medication can help.

Bipolar Disorder

Many people are familiar with the mood changes of bipolar disorder. Bipolar is so named because the affected experience two poles of emotion.

One side is the depressive side, periods of intense depression. The other side is called mania. Mania is characterized by impulsive behavior like excessive spending, substance abuse, and other self-destructive behaviors.

For example, someone with a manic period might go on a shopping spree, go on a bender, quit their job, and leave the country. Although it’s rare for someone manic to sleep, they have an excess of energy.

Each phase of either mania or depression can last for weeks or months without intervention and can have serious consequences in the patient’s life. They might damage their relationships, their career, and their health.

Medication can help control mood fluctuations and prevent episodes. In some cases, hospitalization can help manage severe episodes.

Psychotic Disorders

The term psychotic disorder refers to a disorder where someone has visions, hears voices, or perceives the world differently from reality. There are several psychotic disorders, the most common of which is schizophrenia. In addition, other disorders can have psychotic aspects.

For example, bipolar disorder can have psychotic aspects where the patients hear voices or have visions during manic episodes. Someone with depression can also have delusions or hear voices. This is known as psychotic depression.

Schizophrenia is a disorder where the primary symptoms are severe delusions and paranoia. Someone with schizophrenia might feel that they are being watched, they might experience hallucinations or hear voices.

Although there is no cure for schizophrenia, it can be treated with medication and therapy, the cornerstones of mental illness treatment.

Break the Taboo of Different Types of Mental Disorders

There are many more mental health disorders than what we’ve discussed in this article. Because there are so many people with mental health disorders, it’s important to approach them with compassion and understanding, rather than preconceived notions and biases. Hopefully, with a bit of public education, we can break the taboo.

If you enjoyed learning about the different types of mental disorders, you’ll love our other content! Check out our blog for more!